Roland Jupiter-8

Roland Jupiter-8

The Jupiter 8 (aka JP-8) easily ranks up amongst the greats in the annals of synthesizer history. Produced between 1981–1985, the Jupiter-8 with its 8 voice polyphony featuring 16 analog oscillators (2 per voice), was Roland's Flagship synthesizer during the height of the synth pop revolution in the first half of the 1980s.

The Jupiter 8 is a veritable powerhouse of analog sound - each voice features two discrete VCOs with cross-modulation and sync, pulse-width modulation, a non-resonant high-pass filter, a resonant Low-pass filter with 2-pole (12 ) and 4-pole (24 dB/octave) settings, an LFO with variable waveforms and routings, and two envelope generators (one invertible). It also feature Polyphonic portamento, a versatile arpeggiator and it was one of the first synths to allow its keyboard to be split and layered. The Jupiter-8 includes balanced stereo XLR outputs as well as unbalanced 1/4" outputs. Unlike any other polyphonic synthesizer around at the time the Jupiter-8 features a unique polyphonic unison mode (in addition to monophonic and polyphonic modes) which allows all 16 oscillators to be stacked onto one note, but divide down if more keys are pressed. The Jupiter-8’s features a host of knobs, sliders and buttons for intuitive programming of sounds which can be stored in 64 patches. These patches can store keyboard splits, arpeggiator settings, voice assign mode, hold, portamento and modulation settings. For back-up purposes the patches can be exported to and loaded from a standard analog tape/cassette.

There are few things missing from Jupiter-8, most notably MIDI… and there’s no keyboard dynamics like velocity sensitivity or after touch – these things weren’t available (or implemented) at the time of the JP-8’s release in 1981, although later model Jupiter-8s did include Roland's proprietary DCB interface which could provide note on/off, program change and vcf/vca control. However, MIDI retro-kit's are available from various 3rd party companies.

Notable users of the Jupiter-8 include: Tangerine Dream, Orbital, Future Sound of London, Moby, Duran Duran, Underworld, Vince Clarke, Überzone, Jean Michel Jarre, Roxy Music, OMD, A Flock Of Seagulls, Depeche Mode, Rush, Meat Beat Manifesto, Banco De Gaia, Josh Wink, Thomas Dolby, Howard Jones, The Cars, Prince, Gary Wright, Jan Hammer, BT, Adrian Lee, Heaven 17, Kitaro, Elvis Costello, Tears for Fears, Huey Lewis and the News, Journey, Moog Cookbook, Toto, Yes, Devo, Freddy Fresh, George Duke, Greg Phillanganes, Jonathan Cain of Journey, Greg Johnson & Kevin Kendrick of Cameo, Stevie Wonder and Simple Minds.

Roland Jupiter-8 Specifications:

Synthesis type: Subtractive

Polyphony - 8 voices

Oscillators - 2 VCO's per voice (16 oscillators's!) switchable between triangle, sawtooth, pulse, and square waves plus noise on OSC 2

LFO - 4-waveform (sine, tri, ramp, random) LFO

Filter - Low pass filter with 2-pole (12 dB/oct) and 4-pole (24 dB/oct) modes, Env Mod, LFO MOd, Key Follow. Separate 6 dB/oct high pass filter.

VCA - Standard ADSR and mixer to balance oscillator levels

Memory - 64 patches and 8 patch presets

Keyboard - 61 note keyboard

Control - DCB Roland to Roland sync/interface on some models

Date Produced - 1981 – 1984


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Posted in 1980s Synths, polyphonic, Roland Synthesizers, Subtractive Synth, Synthesizers.